Published: 02nd December 2019
This Coimbatore-based palm leaf artist uses her work to teach science to young students
Mohana Vani M makes parrots, fishes and much more using palm leaves thus going the eco-friendly way. At the same time, she also tries not to exploit the resources
When Mohana Vani M was 8, her uncle showed her a few palm-leaf manuscripts which excited little Mohana. She began to get interested in the creative ways of using palm leaves and wanted to learn it. But she couldn't find anyone who could teach her. Years later, a friend suggested a workshop that was being conducted in Madurai and Mohana was over the moon. "The workshop lasted three days and I learnt to make baskets and small boxes using palm leaves. Knowing the technique, I started making things on my own and I have been making them for two years now," says the 31-year-old from Coimbatore.
Mohana Vani M making palm dolls (Pic: U Rakesh Kumar)
Giving her passion an educational touch, she has started training students of Cuckoo Forest School, Puliyanur, in the art of making dolls and animals using palm leaves. But her teaching doesn't stop there, in the process of making these dolls, she educates the children about science concepts and also stories about the animals. "I add seeds while making these toys so that even if it is thrown away, a new life comes up. This simple idea clearly makes kids understand how ornithophily or pollination by birds works," she explains. She also makes ants, parrots, peacocks and much more. "I teach them to make these animals and while doing that, I tell them facts and also stories about the animals. Eventually, when they make their own toys, they create their own stories. And some of those stories are just unimaginable," she laughs.
Palm dolls made by Mohana Vani M (Pic: U Rakesh Kumar)
Though it is a completely eco-friendly toy, she says that she does not tend to make it often. "I want to make the future generation aware of using such products instead of using plastics. My aim is to teach them the art of making toys using palm leaves. Though it is a leaf, I don't prefer in exploiting it at any cause," she smiles.
Talking about the social cause, she says that she has recently started teaching cancer survivors the art of making these dolls. "This would help them get an income and also regain confidence in life. Indulging in such activities would also help them to be engaged and active," she concludes.